Here on the gentle hills of Canterbury, N.H., live three of the remaining eight gentle ladies known to the world as Shakers -- Bertha Lindsay, Gertrude Soule, and Ethel Hudson. Renowned for their innovativeness, honesty, and Christian charity, Shakers choose a life of celibacy, purity, and hard work. Their much-copied furniture reflects this uncluttered life style. Less known is their simple yet imaginative food style and preparation.
At times Shakers experimented with a strictly vegetarian diet or pork-free meals, but generally returned to a more inclusive, though still uncomplicated, menu.
While cooking was left to the ``sisters,'' farming took up much of the light hours for the ``brothers'' of Shaker communities. Today only two of these communities exist, one here in Canterbury and one in Sabbathday Lake, Maine.
Typical Shaker food is served at the Shaker Village here in Canterbury, at lunch and at candlelight dinners throughout the spring and summer seasons.
A typical menu may include cold rhubarb tea, broiled chicken breast with cream of tarragon sauce, seasonal greens with herb dressing, and plum cobbler. Eldress Bertha Lindsay's squash biscuits are often served, and Sister Bertha herself is frequently on hand to share a recipe or a tip or two.
Tours, lunches and dinners, and herb walks are held in spring, summer, and winter. For information write to Shaker Village Inc., Canterbury, N.H. 03244.
The following recipes are from the booklet ``Shaker Tested Recipes,'' available at the gift shop for $1.75. Saturn Circles 2 green bell peppers 1 tablespoon gelatin 3 tablespoons cold water 1 cup tomato juice 2 hard-boiled eggs Salad dressing of your choice
Cut tops from green peppers and remove seeds. Sprinkle gelatin over cold water. Dissolve in hot tomato juice. Place shelled hard-boiled egg in center of each pepper. Fill with tomato mixture and chill until set.
Slice thin over chicory or lettuce and serve with French or your favorite dressing. Porcupines 3/4 pound hamburger meat 1 medium onion 1/2 cup milk 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon pepper 1/3 cup cooked rice 1 can condensed tomato soup
Combine all ingredients except soup and roll into several balls. Brown lightly in frying pan.
Add condensed tomato soup. Cover and cook over low heat 1 hour. As rice swells, it pushes out and gives a ``porcupine'' effect.
If desired, you may cook it in a casse role and bake in oven at 375 degrees F. Orange Pudding 4 oranges, peeled and cut in pieces 2 cups sugar 1 quart milk 3 eggs, separated 2 tablespoons cornstarch
Combine oranges and sugar in deep pudding dish.
In a saucepan combine milk, egg yolks, and cornstarch and bring to boil, stirring constantly. When thick, cool and pour over oranges.
Beat egg whites until stiff and pour over pudding and brown slightly in hot oven.